Pocket PCs suck! Well, they do at least suck when they don’t work as they are supposed to. …which is pretty often in my experience. To be fair, I must say that Pocket PCs are great as long as they do work. Since a Pocket PC is like a miniature computer, it offers a functional range and programmability that surpasses almost any other mobile device. Unfortunately, this leads to complexity, and complexity leads to bugs which in turn leads to malfunctioning devices. I’ve been using Pocket PCs for two years now and have developed sort of a love-hate relationship. Probably the culprit is the Windows Mobile operating system. Windows Mobile, although already in version 6, evokes bad memories of the buggy Microsoft operating systems of the nineties. Only that this isn’t the nineties. After ten or fifteen years of consumer mobile phones, we have come to expect mobile devices to work flawlessly. In fact, I am relying on my Pocket PC for many day-today tasks. I use it as a phone, alarm clock, notepad, camera, phone book, and mp3 player and more. My HP iPaq Business Navigator also has an assisted GPS, but I came to see the latter as a toy function. Due to usability issues I hardly bother to fiddle with it.
However, the question I am asking myself now is – isn’t this device just an expensive toy? Where is the robustness that should come with a “business” device . I have put in a good deal of time just to keep my pocket PC working. My HP PPC has seen the service shop twice, once because of a faulty memory chip, and another time because it didn’t boot anymore until the shop installed a firmware upgrade. In addition to that, I have spent a fair number of hours with configuration and trouble-shooting because one or another function was broken. Once I get a working configuration with all the software installed, I use Spb Backup to create a complete backup of the system. Spb Backup is a real life-saver. It backs up all configuration data, user data, applications and system data. Should the device give up its ghost or display odd behaviour (believe me, every Pocket PC will do that at some point), I can perform a factory reset and restore the backup to recreate the former status of the device easily. But even with this tool, the amount of maintenance required seems a little excessive. A gadget that carries the name “Business Navigator” should be expected to work like a business device, namely reliably. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for the HP iPaq and neither for the other Pocket PCs I’ve owned and used. As previously mentioned, I am not blaming the hardware manufacturers. The OS seems to be the crux.
Real business users would probably be better off with a smartphone that requires less messing around. A Pocket PC is more suited to -shall I put it this way- the technically inclined person.